We know that labor and environmental issues are major victims in the pending TPP deal, but now we learn that the deal is also being rigged to provide a major boon to big psrmaceuticsl companies. Losers: pretty much everyone, including U.S. Patients in need of cutting edge drugs. Politico has the story:
A recent draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal would give U.S. pharmaceutical firms unprecedented protections against competition from cheaper generic drugs, possibly transcending the patent protections in U.S. law.
POLITICO has obtained a draft copy of TPP’s intellectual property chapter as it stood on May 11, at the start of the latest negotiating round in Guam. While U.S. trade officials would not confirm the authenticity of the document, they downplayed its importance, emphasizing that the terms of the deal are likely to change significantly as the talks enter their final stages. Those terms are still secret, but the public will get to see them once the twelve TPP nations reach a final agreement and President Obama seeks congressional approval.
Still, the draft chapter will provide ammunition for critics who have warned that TPP’s protections for pharmaceutical companies could dump trillions of dollars of additional health care costs on patients, businesses and governments around the Pacific Rim. The highly technical 90-page document, cluttered with objections from other TPP nations, shows that U.S. negotiators have fought aggressively and, at least until Guam, successfully on behalf of Big Pharma.
The response from trade negotiators to being caught with their hands in the cookie jar? The usual.
U.S. officials said the key point to remember about trade deals is that no provision is ever final until the entire deal is final—and that major compromises tend to happen at the very end of the negotiations. They expect the real horse-trading to begin now that Obama has signed “fast-track” legislation requiring Congress to pass or reject TPP without amendments.
“The negotiations on intellectual property are complex and continually evolving,” said Trevor Kincaid, a spokesman for Froman. “On pharmaceutical products, we are working closely with stakeholders, Congress, and partner countries to develop an approach that aims to make affordable life-saving medicine more widely available while creating incentives for the development of new treatments and cures. Striking this important balance is at the heart of our work.”
Who’s upset? Everyone – businesses, other countries, generic drug makers, doctors, even the AARP. The bottom line?
[Rohit] Malpani of Doctors Without Borders said U.S. negotiators have basically functioned as drug lobbyists. The TPP countries have 40 percent of global economic output, and the deal is widely seen as establishing new benchmarks for some of the most complex areas of global business. Malpani fears it could set a precedent that crushes the generic drug industry under a mountain of regulation and litigation.
“We consider this the worst-ever agreement in terms of access to medicine,” he said. “It would create higher drug prices around the world—and in the U.S., too.”
Clearly not going to be one of Barack Obama’s shining moments as a progressive champion.